What do you find most difficult about writing poetry?
This morning I was talking with one of the cooks at my child’s daycare, Wanda. We have a lot of conversations about writing, and, for a long time I’d been very intrigued by her. She was never able to tell me what she did, creatively, but she kept asking me for help to do the thing she does. One night, she came to my home to get a lawnmower; as a thank you gift, she gave me a CD of her reading “stuff” and a book of her “stuff”. It was a published book and CD set of her POETRY. She kept calling it “stuff” and “just little things that I think about” and it reminded me of my mom, who also calls the poems she writes “little thoughts” or “little sayings”. But they’re not aphorisms or anecdotes; they’re poems. So, this morning, as I was chatting with Wanda, who was once again talking to me about “things” she “makes”, I was left baffled as to why she wouldn’t call her work poetry. We were speaking about plays, specifically, writing plays, and I was telling her that plays feel more natural to me, since I’m a visual person, so I can see the play in my head. The tough part is getting the words out, to transform the visual to the written. She works in an opposite way: she sees the words in her head, writes them out and at the end of it, people read what she’s written and can see the images. We had a great conversation and it was one of the times that I recalled Paul Guest saying that he had a facility for language and I thought well golly what must that be like! It occurs to me that, for my mom and for Wanda, they don’t think of their poems as poems because writing them is effortless. Writing is difficult for me. As I said to Wanda, I’m not a word person. I’m a visual person. So, the translation of the visual to the word is quite tedious and I never believe I’ve gotten it down right. Because, of course, I haven’t.
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